Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vintage Cocktails: Fibber McGee

This week's cocktail is the Fibber McGee! Robert and I decided to try it for two entirely grown up and well thought out reasons. Firstly, we had all of the ingredients on hand, and secondly the name was funny. Good enough reasons, right?

A quick bit of internet research revealed that there was a very popular radio show in the 1930's and 40s called "Fibber McGee and Molly", and although there doesn't seem to be an explicit connection between the drink and the show my guess is that the drink was inspired by the show in some way.

Interestingly, this drink is not well attested on the web, nor apparently in print. The primary source for it is the Internet Cocktail Database, and only two cocktail bloggers that I found had made it and blogged about it. Both of them say that they found the recipe on the ICD, and one, Sonja at Thinking of Drinking, says that as far as she's found, the drink was only mentioned in print twice- once in a NYTs article from 1990, and once in this edition of The Ultimate Little Martini Book.

So, rather surprisingly, I can contribute something! My cocktail writings are total newb stuff, but my little blue book can be considered an authority- it says so right inside! And I can report that the 1947 Professional Mixing Guide, put out by the Angostura Bitters Company, includes a recipe for a Fibber McGee cocktail. The era is right for the radio show, too.

The proportions for the drink in my book differ slightly from those given at the ICD- I've noted them below.

Fibber McGee cocktail

1.5 oz gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 unsweetened canned grapefruit juice (internet recipes call for twice as much grapefruit juice. Also, the ICD does not specify the type of grapefruit juice. Thinking of Drinking calls for fresh (probably much tastier); we used some from a jar.)
generous dash of (Angostura) aromatic bitters (internet recipes call for 2 dashes of bitters)

Stir in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain into a cocktail glass, twist a lemon peel on top and serve. As you can see, I kept my ice in.

Thoughts: Meh. I might like this drink if it were made with loads of fresh grapefruit juice I suppose, but it was exciting enough that I feel inclined to try. It was herbal-y and kind of medicinal. Robert actually poured his out, marking the first time in 12 years I've ever seen him chuck perfectly good alcohol. I dig the murky past on this cocktail, but having tried it I can see why it has been more or less consigned to history.

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